Picture: ejaugsburg/Pixabay
Picture: ejaugsburg/Pixabay

It’s National Environment Month

By Dominic Naidoo Time of article published Jun 1, 2021

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June 1 marks the beginning of National Environment Month - raising awareness of the importance of protecting our environment, biodiversity and natural heritage as well as looking at how every South African can play a role in environmental conservation.

The South African government, industrial leaders and environmental organisations from around the country will join hands to see this happen.

South Africa is one of the most biodiverse countries in the world.

It is home to almost 10 percent of the world’s known bird, fish and plant species and an equally impressive six percent of its mammal and reptile species.

Our beautiful coastlines are visited by over 2000 different species of sea life throughout the year with the annual Sardine Run and Whale Watching events becoming world-renowned.

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South Africa also plays host to nine spectacularly diverse biomes, three of which are designated “Biodiversity Hotspot” biomes. This designation is given by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) with only 34 such hotspots identified around the world.

To be identified as a biodiversity hotspot, an area needs to have, as per the IUCN, “at least 1 500 vascular plants as endemic species, a high percentage of plant life found nowhere else on the planet as well as have 30% or less of its original natural vegetation. In other words, the biomes must be threatened.

The European Commission reported that “healthy ecosystems clean our water, purify our air, maintain our soil, regulate the climate, recycle nutrients and provide us with food. They provide raw materials and resources for medicines and other purposes. They are at the foundation of all civilisation and sustain our economies.”

There is no doubt that the environment and its ecosystems are critically important to our future.

The way we treat our natural environment can have significant consequences for the future well-being of our planet.

It’s important to learn to live in harmony with the thousands of species with which we share this beautiful planet.

What can you do? Use this month as a starting point to become more environmentally conscious. Switch off that light when you leave a room, turn off the tap whilst brushing your teeth, save your shower water for the garden... every bit helps.

As David Attenborough once said, “We can now destroy or we can cherish, the choice is ours.”

* In hopes of deepening global environmental awareness, the United Nations (UN) General Assembly established the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) in June 1972 at the UN Conference on the Human Environment in Stockholm, Sweden. International Environment Day was established by UNEP in December 1972 and first commemorated on 5 June 1974.

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